INDIA'S representative in Britain has met the family of jailed deaf charity worker Ian Stillman.

His parents Roy and Monica, who live in Tadcaster Road, York, joined with the rest of their family to speak with Indian High Commissioner Ronen Sen.

They asked him to release Ian before his niece, Jessie, the Stillman family's youngest member, celebrates her eighth birthday on September 27.

Roy said: "The family were all there and ranged from a 79-year-old, right down to seven.

"Jessie was pushing a trolley with petitions in it and a notice saying 'remember my uncle'. She spoke to the press and said 'my uncle is innocent and, anyway, I want him out for my birthday.'"

The High Commissioner spoke to the family for nearly an hour."

"We all came away feeling pretty well satisfied," said Roy.

"He did express concern for us as a family. He did seem to understand and I think he is a kindhearted man. He did seem to sympathise with us, and promised to convey our representations to Delhi."

Before the meeting, the family walked to 10 Downing Street and handed in a copy of their request for a presidential pardon, which has been handed in to the Indian Government, and requests that Ian is released.

A letter from Ian to Prime Minister Tony Blair was also handed in.

Ian, who has been profoundly deaf since childhood, had a leg amputated after a road accident and is diabetic, is serving a ten- year prison sentence for possession of cannabis - a charge he has always denied.

At his trial, he was denied a sign language translator, effectively excluding him from taking any part.

The Evening Press is campaigning for his release and, in July, handed the House of Commons a petition signed by more than 5,000 readers.

Ian, who is married with two children, moved to India nearly 30 years ago to set up a charity working with the country's deaf.

The Indian Government recently suggested it may consider granting clemency to Ian, but that would mean he is deported from the country.

The family is also waiting to hear the outcome of the application for a presidential pardon.

Updated: 11:43 Thursday, September 05, 2002